Wales can surprise at the world cup: Howlett

Former All Black winger Doug Howlett says that he believes Wales can make a big impact at the World Cup which will be held in Howlett’s home country New Zealand.

The New Zealand born Munster winger will line up against Wales for the Barbarians at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday after ending the season with Munster as Magners League Champions.

Howlett says that he is expecting a tough match from Warren Gatland’s men who he believes have the potential to suprise at the world cup like they in 2003.

The Munster winger was in the All Blacks team in 2003 when Wales gave them a fright eight years ago and says Gatland’s outfit could make a similar impression.

“They have got an exceptional group of players there,” he told the Western Mail.

“If they can get them all on the field and fit at the same time they will be a force as they were at the 2003 World Cup. They are a team to look out for.”

Howlett will miss the world cup as he has signed a one-year extension with Munster but scored 49 tries in his 62 Tests for the All Blacks.

“I will be up here in the northern hemisphere getting up at all hours to watch the games,” he said.

“Munster will be playing over that period so I’ll be playing games myself, but glued to the television set early mornings.

“I would like to think the All Blacks are going to do it.

“It was a bad experience against France in Cardiff four years ago. Rugby has moved on again since then.

“It’s exciting, especially having played in the northern hemisphere for a little bit now among the Irish guys. They won’t be easy-beats either.

“It’s going to be a tough old tournament.”

Speaking about this weekend’s Barbarians clash with Wales Howlett said that he wants another victory after he won with the invitation team against England at Twickenham in 2009.

“It’s a real privilege to be invited to play for the Baa-Baas,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to playing against Wales, we got a good result last time I was with them.

“I’ve got fond memories of being in that team and meeting players that you are used to playing against.

“It’s a great thrill being in that group and playing with the calibre of guys in the squad. They’ve assembled a class outfit again this year. It’s exciting for all of us as players.”

Howlett is expected to line up opposite teenage Wales wing George North who he says he has been keeping an eye on.

“We’ve been tracking each other over the Magners League season and he’s certainly a talent and one to look out for,” said the Kiwi.

It will be another visit to the Millennium Stadium for Howlett, who has starred there on Test duty in the past.

“It’s a fantastic place to play rugby,” he said.

“I’ve run out there as an All Black against Wales and this will be another experience that I look forward to.”

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